Iran opens drone factory in Tajikistan

The newly manufactured 200-kilometer-range drones could be sent to Iran’s terror proxies in the Middle East.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Iran opened a military drone-manufacturing facility in Tajikistan Tuesday.

According to the official Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), in the formal ceremony, Iranian chief of staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri said, “We are in a position that apart from meeting our domestic need, we can export military equipment to allied and friendly countries to help increase security and sustainable peace.”

The plant will make Ababil-2 UAVs, which have a range of 200 kilometers, and can be used in attacks or for surveillance purposes. The question is what these drones will be used for.

On the one hand, the inauguration of the plant came amidst a days-long visit to promote bilateral relations between the two Persian-speaking countries. According to the report, Tajik President Emomali Rahmon said his country “welcome[d] any kind of defensive and military cooperation with Iran.”

Both Shiite Iran and secular Moslem Tajikistan feel threatened by the extremist Taliban government in neighboring Afghanistan. Iranian news agencies said that Bagheri and the Tajik defense minister talked of cooperating “in the fight against terrorism” during the visit.

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Yet Iran has provided its terror proxies in Yemen and Iraq with similar kinds of drones over the years. It has also tried to set up drone-manufacturing facilities for Hezbollah in Syria and Lebanon.

Israel regularly hits convoys of military supplies traveling in Syria that were sourced from Iran. It has also destroyed Hezbollah missile plants in its determination to prevent any upgrade to the military capabilities of terrorist groups over its northern border.

In mid-February, Iran reportedly suffered the loss of hundreds of drones in an airbase in the western part of the country in an aerial strike by UAVs that it blamed on Israel. Jerusalem did not comment on the alleged attack, which Lebanese TV station Al Mayadeen said was launched from Kurdish-controlled territory in Iraq.

The airstrike occurred just a few days after a pair of Iranian “kamikaze” drones heading for Israel were shot down over Iraq by the American air force. Also in February, the IDF shot down a drone launched by Hezbollah after it crossed the northern border into Israel.

In March, the IDF confirmed that a year previously, its F-35 Stealth bomber had shot down two long-range Iranian UAVs loaded with weapons to be dropped for its terror operatives in the Gaza Strip.

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Tajikistan is one of five central Asian republics that used to be part of the Soviet Union, all of which are members of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization. Building its first ever overseas drone plant in Dushanbe could also be seen as another way Iran is cozying up to Russia during this period of East-West tension over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.